[Favorite Exceprts] How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu

Charles Yu is that talented combination of wit, humor and nerd that only the very fortunate have discovered. Very sheepishly I will accept that this is my first foray into reading time-travel, and boy was I hammered! 

My favorite excerpts from the masterpiece:


I told her I’d never met software with low self-esteem before.
I have a thing for my operating system. There I said it.
...she might just halt her own subroutine and commit software suicide. And then I would have to do an error report, and I don’t know how I would even begin to explain that to Microsoft.
I don’t have many friends. TAMMY, I guess. Her soul is code, is a fixed set of instructions, and although you might think having a relationship with someone like that would get boring after a while, it doesn’t.

...the reason I have job security is that people have no idea how to make themselves happy. Even with a time machine.
He spent all the time he had with us thinking about how he wished he had more time, if he could only have more time.
We made equations. Equations that had sadness as a constant, whose escape velocities seemed impossibly out of reach.

Other people are just looking for weird. They want to turn their lives into something unrecognizable. I see a lot of men end up as their own uncles. Super-easy to avoid, totally dumb move. See it all the time. No need to go into details, but it obviously involved a time machine and you know what with you know who. General rule is you want to avoid having sex with anyone unless you are sure they aren’t family. One guy I know ended up as his own sister.

To live in here is to live at the origin, at zero, neither present nor absent, a denial of self- and creature-hood to an arbitrarily small epsilon delta limit.
If you’re not careful, time will take away everything that ever hurt you, everything you have ever lost, and replace it with knowledge. Time is a machine: it will convert your pain into experience. Raw data will be compiled, will be translated into a more comprehensible language. The individual events of your life will be transmuted into another substance called memory and in the mechanism something will be lost and you will never be able to reverse it, you will never again have the original moment back in its uncategorized , preprocessed state. It will force you to move on and you will not have a choice in the matter.

If I could be half the person my dog is, I would be twice the human I am.

...how anxiety is encoded into our sentences, our conditionals, out thoughts, how worry is encoded into language itself, into grammar.
Even the sexbots here are lonely.

...all of which is starting to make me have serious doubts in terms of the whole free will versus determinism situation because even as I am typing from the copy I have in my hand, the text it matching my thoughts exactly, all the way down...
Life is, to some extent, an extended dialogue with your future self about how exactly you are going to let yourself down over the coming years.

Stick to the story.

And what does the story do?

Makes me skip ahead.

You are a paradox.

I am a paradox.

Your life is one big paradox.

It makes no sense.

Right. Take a guess who I am.

Me.

That’s correct.

You don’t look anything like me.

The key question of time travel,” my father says, “is this: How do we know what it means to perceive an event as presently occurring, rather than as a memory of a past event? How can we tell present from past? And how do we move the infinitesimal window of the present through the viewfinder at such a constant rate?
We can;t remember the present, except what is déjà vu but a memory of the present? And if we can remember the present, why can’t we experience the past?
Failure is easy to measure. Failure is an event.
Harder to measure is insignificance. A nonevent.

...standard black arrows pointing to hours and minutes and a thin red needle for the second hand, which made discrete movements, jumped from mark to mark in its circumnavigation, with a kind of abrupt yet soft bouncing motion, and a sound that always seemed louder than it should have been.

You haven’t experienced awkwardness until you’ve seen a three-million-dollar piece of software cry.

For any given epsilon, there exists a delta such that I can come arbitrarily close to shooting myself, and yet never actually do it. I am my own limit, and that limit is the present.